Funding of £170 million will kick-start “shovel-ready” flood defence projects across England to protect homes, businesses and jobs, the Government has announced.
The funding comes on top of a long term £5.2 billion package being set out by the Government, to construct around 2,000 new flood and coastal defences that will better protect 336,000 properties from flooding by 2027.
The £5.2 billion, which will protect thousands of key sites such as schools and hospitals and ensure existing defences are well maintained, will avoid £32 billion of wider economic damage from flooding, the Government said.
And an extra £200 million will be provided for innovative projects, such as creating sustainable urban drainage schemes or wetlands to store water and boost wildlife at the same time, which will be tested out in 25 at-risk areas.
There are also proposed changes to the joint Government and insurance industry Flood Re scheme, as part of the plans being unveiled by ministers.
These include offering discounted premiums to households who have fitted protection measures such as air brick covers, and allowing payment of claims to include additional amounts to rebuild properties so they are better protected from future floods.
The Government also said it would review the policy for building in areas at risk of floods to protect future development, amid concerns over homes being built in the flood plain, and expand flood warning systems.
And the plans include a commitment to doubling the number of Government-funded projects which include natural solutions such as planting trees, restoring peatland and wetlands and looking after soils, which also have benefits for wildlife and tackling climate change.
The £5.2 billion investment, announced in the Budget in March, is for schemes from 2021.
But the £170 million cash injection will help boost the economy as areas recover from the pandemic by starting work from this year on 22 projects, which are ready to go with help to reach required levels of funding.
As well as protecting homes, the projects will defend more than 10,000 local businesses and safeguard around 100,000 jobs that rely on those firms, the Government said.
– Up to £21 million for the second phase of a flood prevention scheme in Leeds, which will protect more than 370 businesses and enable development of land to create homes and jobs.
The Government will also provide £1.3 million funding for “natural flood management” measures to reduce the flow of rainwater into the River Aire, such as planting woodland.
– Up to £30 million for the Severn Valley and £5 million in Tenbury Wells for two flood schemes to protect almost 3,000 homes in areas badly affected by last winter’s floods.
There is also £5. 4 million for tree planting and creating habitat to reduce the risk of flooding and store carbon throughout the Severn Valley.
– Funding of almost £43.5 million will deliver a tidal barrier and flood walls in Lowestoft and the Suffolk coast to protect key infrastructure and businesses and support offshore energy and tourism.
Other schemes being supported range from funding to protect critical infrastructure on the south coast around Brighton, Hove and Shoreham, to restoring peatland in the Peak District and protecting Hebden Bridge, in West Yorkshire, which was hit by floods this winter.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Last winter I saw for myself the misery and upheaval that flooding can bring to lives and livelihoods and I said we would do more to help people.
“This long-term plan will help push back the flood waters and protect hundreds of thousands of homes, businesses and livelihoods.
“Our record investment will also stimulate economic growth across the UK as we build back better.”
Mr Johnson visited flood-hit communities during the 2019 general election campaign but faced criticism for not doing so during floods earlier this year.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “The devastating impacts of last winter’s flooding were an important reminder of the need to continue to invest and accelerate action to reduce the impact of flooding on our communities.
“Our record investment and ambitious policies will better protect homes, schools, hospitals and businesses, but we also recognise that we cannot prevent flooding entirely, which is why we will ensure that communities at high risk are more resilient.”